Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

ters.* Kášínátha asserts that the chapters of the Śrí Bhagavata are three hundred and thirty-five, and that the numbers apply, throughout, only to the Devi Bhágavata. It is also said that the Bhagavata contains an account of the acquirement of holy knowledge by Hayagríva; the particulars of the Saraswata Kalpa; a dialogue between Ambarísha and Suka; and that it commences with the Gáyatrí, or, at least, a citation of it. These all apply to the Devi Bhagavata alone, except the last: but it also is more true of the Saiva than of the Vaishňava work; for the latter has only one word of the Gáyatrí, dhímahi, 'we meditate'; whilst the former to dhímahi adds, Yo nah prachodayát, “who may enlighten us. To the third argument it is, in the first place, objected, that the citation of the Bhágavata by modern writers is no test of its authenticity; and, with regard to the more ancient commentary of Sankara Acharya, it is asked, “Where is it?” Those who advocate the sanctity of the Bhágavata reply: “It was written in a difficult style, and became obsolete, and is lost.” “A very unsatisfactory plea”, retort their opponents; "for we still have the works of Sankara, several of which are quite as difficult as any in the Sanskrit language.” The existence of this comment, too, rests upon the authority of Mádhwa or Mádha

sey

[ocr errors]

va, * who, in a commentary of his own, asserts that he has consulted eight others. Now, amongst these is one by the monkey Hanumat; and, although a Hindu disputant may believe in the reality of such a composition, yet we may receive its citation as a proof that Mádhwa was not very scrupulous in the verification of his authorities.

There are other topics urged, in this controversy, on both sides, some of which are simple enough, some are ingenious: but the statement of the text is, of itself, sufficient to show, that, according to the received opinion, of all the authorities, of the priority of the eighteen Puráňas to the Bhárata, it is impossible that the Srí Bhágavata, which is subsequent to the Bharata, should be of the number; and the evidence of style, the superiority of which to that of the Puranas in general is admitted by the disputants, is also proof that it is the work of a different hand. Whether the Devi Bhágavata have a better title to be considered as an original composition of Vyása, is equally questionable; but it cannot be doubted that the Sri Bhagavata is the product of uninspired erudition. There does not seem to be any other ground than tradition for ascribing it to Bopadeva the grammarian: but there is no reason to call the tradition in question. Bopadeva flourished at the court of Hemádri, Raja of Devagiri, Deogur or Dowlutabad, and must, consequently, have lived prior to the conquest of that principality by the Mohammedans in the fourteenth century. The date of the

* See Burnouf's edition of the Bhagavata - purána, Vol. I., Preface p. LXII., note.

CO

twelfth century, * commonly assigned to him, is, probably, correct, and is that of the Bhagavata Puráňa.

6. Nárada or Náradiya Puráňa. “Where Nárada has described the duties which were observed in the Brihat Kalpa, that is called the Náradiya, having twenty-five thousand stanzas."1 If the number of verses be here correctly stated, the Puráňa has not fallen into my hands. The copy I have analysed contains not many more than three thousand ślokas. There is another work, which might be expected to be of greater extent, the Brihan Náradiya or great Nárada Puráňa; but this, according to the concurrence of three copies in my possession, and of five others in the Company's library, contains but about three thousand five hundred verses. It may be doubted, therefore, if the Nárada Purana of the Matsya exists.?

According to the Matsya, the Nárada Puráňa is related

1 7718 ATTST rata ra f ael .

पञ्चविंशत्सहस्राणि नारदीयं तदुच्यते ॥ ? The description of Vishňu, translated by Colonel Vans Kennedy (Researches into the Nature and Affinity of Ancient and Hindu Mythology, p. 200) from the Náradiya Purána, occurs in my copy of the Brihan Náradiya. There is no Nárada Purana in the East India Company's library, though, as noticed in the text, several of the Brihan Náradiya. There is a copy of the Rukmangada Charitra, said to be a part of the Srí Nárada Purána.

* BurnoufBhagavata-purána, Vol. I., Preface, p. LXIII., first note, and pp. XCVII. et seq.-would place Bopadeva in the second half of the thirteenth century.

I follow the western and southern pandits in preferring Bopadeva to Vopadeva, as the name is ordinarily exhibited.

Touching Bopadeva and Hemádri, see Dr. Aufrecht's Catalog. Cod. Manuscript., &c., pp. 37 and 38.

by Nárada, and gives an account of the Brihat Kalpa. The Náradiya Purana is communicated, by Nárada, to the Rishis at Naimishárańya, on the Gomatí river. The Brihan Náradiya is related to the same persons, at the same place, by Súta, as it was told by Nárada to Sanatkumára. Possibly, the term Brihat may have been suggested by the specification which is given in the Matsya: but there is no description, in it, of any particular Kalpa or day of Brahmá.

From a cursory examination of these Puráńas it is very evident that they have no conformity to the definition of a Puráňa, and that both are sectarial and modern compilations, intended to support the doctrine of Bhakti or faith in Vishnu. With this view, they have collected a variety of prayers addressed to one or other form of that divinity; a number of observances and holydays connected with his adoration; and different legends, some, perhaps, of an early, others of a more recent, date, illustrative of the efficacy of devotion to Hari. Thus, in the Nárada, we have the stories of Dhruva and Prahláda; the latter told in the words of the Vishnu: whilst the second portion of it is occupied with a legend of Mohiní, the will-born daughter of a king called Rukmángada; beguiled by whom, the king offers to perform for her whatever she may desire. She calls upon him either to violate the rule of fasting on the eleventh day of the fortnight, a day sacred to Vishnu, or to put his son to death; and he kills his son, as the lesser sin of the two. This shows the spirit of the work. Its date may also be inferred from its tenor; as such monstrous extravagancies in praise of Bhakti are, certainly, of modern origin. One limit it furnishes, itself; for it refers

to Suka and Parikshit, the interlocutors of the Bhágavata; and it is, consequently, subsequent to the date of that Puráňa. It is, probably, considerably later; for it affords evidence that it was written after India was in the hands of the Mohammedans. In the concluding passage it is said: “Let not this Puráňa be repeated in

the presence of the killers of cows' and contemners | of the gods.” It is, possibly, a compilation of the six' teenth or seventeenth century.

The Brihan Náradiya is a work of the same tenor and time. It contains little else than panegyrical prayers addressed to Vishńu, and injunctions to observe various rites, and keep holy certain seasons, in honour of him. The earlier legends introduced are the birth of Márkandeya, the destruction of Sagara's sons, and the dwarf Avatára; but they are subservient to the design of the whole, and are rendered occasions for praising Náráyana. Others, illustrating the efficacy of certain Vaishnava observances, are puerile inventions, wholly foreign to the more ancient system of Pauráńik fiction. There is no attempt at cosmogony, or patriarchal or regal genealogy. It is possible that these topics may be treated of in the missing stanzas: but it seems more likely that the Nárada Puráňa of the lists has little in common with the works to which its name is applied in Bengal and Hindusthán.

7. Márkańda or Márkandeya Puráňa. “That Puráňa in which, commencing with the story of the birds that were acquainted with right and wrong, everything is narrated fully by Márkańdeya, as it was explained by holy sages, in reply to the question of the Muni, is called the Márkańdeya, containing nine thousand ver

« AnteriorContinuar »